Episode 309 - Justin Bibb Thumbnail

Prioritizing resilience to extreme weather and climate change is creating new clean energy jobs

A conversation with Justin Bibb, mayor of Cleveland, chair of Climate Mayors

In this episode of Work in Progress, Mayor Justin Bibb of Cleveland talks about how a coalition of American mayors are attacking the impact of extreme weather and environmental challenges in their communities and are bolstering their local economies by creating clean energy jobs.

I recently traveled to Miami Beach for the Aspen Ideas: Climate conference, a gathering of global, federal, and local policymakers, corporate leaders, and scientists, brought together by the Aspen Institute to discuss solutions to the impacts of climate change and pollution. 

There I met members of Climate Mayors, a coalition of 750 mayors from 48 states representing more than 60 million Americans. 

Climate Mayors lays out its mission as:

  • Supporting sustainable infrastructure projects that bolster resilience to extreme weather and climate change, and modernize the electric grid,
  • Advancing environmental justice, and
  • Creating an abundance of clean energy jobs in their communities.

Mayor Justin Bibb of Cleveland – the chair of the group – sat down with me at the conference to discuss those goals and how the mayors are working to achieve results for the people they serve.

He highlights the need for public-private partnerships and collaboration to drive sustainable economic growth and bring jobs to his cities and others around the country. Mayor Bibb says the bipartisan federal legislation that’s making funding available for rebuilding infrastructure and creating jobs is key to those partnerships.

“We’re at the front lines of making sure we take this historic federal investment and have real solutions, real models of best practices in cities, from Madison to Cleveland to LA to New York City. Part of our work is ensuring that cities have the capacity and technical assistance they need to navigate the labyrinth of federal guidelines and regulations to navigate this funding.”

Mayor Bibb stresses the importance of making the benefits of the greening of the economy accessible to all residents, particularly those in marginalized communities.

He also shares his vision for Cleveland as a resilient, equitable, and prosperous city that can serve as a model for the rest of the country.

“We want to create high-paying, good-quality jobs, particularly in the building trades, for a lot of the work we need to do to address the built environment. We’re also really focused on leveraging our roots in advanced manufacturing, and this new growing movement of sustainable manufacturing. The new reshoring trend that we’re seeing coming out of the pandemic is going to bode well for the nation and bode really well for Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.”

I asked him he wants the country to describe Cleveland in the near future.

“Hope, promise, resilience, opportunity. We’ve been a city that has been tough on ourselves for a long time. We know how to rebound in a way that I think is an embodiment of the Great American can-do spirit. And in many ways, Cleveland is America, and America is Cleveland from the legacy issues we’ve had around race, and disinvestment, and segregation and how globalization impacted our city’s economy. And if we can see an equitable, prosperous, inclusive comeback in Cleveland, and I think it shows the nation that if it can be done in Cleveland, it can be done anywhere.”

You can listen to the podcast here, or download and listen wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find it our Work in Progress YouTube channel.

This podcast was created in collaboration with the Aspen Institute.

Episode 309: Justin Bibb, Cleveland mayor and Climate Mayors chair
Host & Executive Producer: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Theme Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4
Transcript: Download the transcript for this episode here
Work in Progress Podcast: Catch up on previous episodes here